Skip to comments.Answering the "Replacement Theology" Critics (Part 1)
Posted on 10/26/2007 9:00:59 PM PDT by topcat54
Replacement theology has become dispensationalism's latest prophetic boogeyman. If you want to end a debate over eschatology, just charge your opponent with holding to replacement theology. What is “replacement theology,” sometimes called “supersessionism,” and why do dispensationalists accuse non-dispensationalists of holding it? Here’s a typical dispensational definition:
Replacement Theology: a theological perspective that teaches that the Jews have been rejected by God and are no longer God’s Chosen People. Those who hold to this view disavow any ethnic future for the Jewish people in connection with the biblical covenants, believing that their spiritual destiny is either to perish or become a part of the new religion that superseded Judaism (whether Christianity or Islam).1
“Replacement theology” is dispensationalism’s trump card in any debate over eschatology because it implies anti-semitism. Hal Lindsey attempted to use this card in his poorly researched and argued The Road to Holocaust.2 He wove an innovative tale implying that anyone who is not a dispensationalist carries the seeds of anti-semitism within his or her prophetic system. This would mean that every Christian prior to 1830 would have been theologically anti-semitic although not personally anti-semtic.
As Peter Leithart and I point out in The Legacy of Hatred Continues,3 it’s dispensationalists who hold to a form of replacement theology since they believe that Israel does not have any prophetic significance this side of the rapture! Prior to the rapture, in terms of dispensational logic, the Church has replaced Israel. This is unquestionably true since God’s prophetic plan for Israel has been postponed until the prophetic time clock starts ticking again at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week which starts only after the Church is taken to heaven in the so-called rapture. Until then, God is dealing redemptively with the Church. Am I making this up? Consider the following by dispensationalist E. Schuyler English:
An intercalary4 period of history, after Christ’s death and resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, has intervened. This is the present age, the Church age. . . . During this time God has not been dealing with Israel nationally, for they have been blinded concerning God’s mercy in Christ. . . . However, God will again deal with Israel as a nation. This will be in Daniel’s seventieth week, a seven-year period yet to come.5
According to English and every other dispensationalist, the Church has replaced Israel until the rapture. The unfulfilled promises made to Israel are not fulfilled until after the Church is taken off the earth. Thomas Ice, one of dispensationalism’s rising stars, admits that the Church replaces Israel this side of the rapture: “We dispensationalists believe that the church has superseded Israel during the current church age, but God has a future time in which He will restore national Israel ‘as the institution for the administration of divine blessings to the world.’”6
Dispensationalists claim that their particular brand of eschatology is the only prophetic system that gives Israel her proper place in redemptive history. This is an odd thing to argue since two-thirds of the Jews will be slaughtered during the post-rapture tribulation, and the world will be nearly destroyed. Charles Ryrie writes in his book The Best is Yet to Come that during this post-rapture period Israel will undergo “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.”7 The book’s title doesn’t seem to very appropriate considering that during this period of time most of the Jews will die! John Walvoord follows a similar line of argument: “Israel is destined to have a particular time of suffering which will eclipse any thing that it has known in the past. . . . [T]he people of Israel . . . are placing themselves within the vortex of this future whirlwind which will destroy the majority of those living in the land of Palestine.”8 Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that during the Great Tribulation “Israel will suffer tremendous persecution (Matthew 24:15–28; Revelation 12:1–17). As a result of this persecution of the Jewish people, two-thirds are going to be killed.”9
During the time when Israel seems to be at peace with the world, she is really under the domination of the antichrist who will turn on her at the mid-point in the seven-year period. Israel waits more than 2000 years for the promises finally to be fulfilled, and before it happens, two-thirds of them are wiped out. Those who are charged with holding a “replacement theology viewpoint” believe in no inevitable future Jewish bloodbath. In fact, we believe that the Jews will inevitably embrace Jesus as the Messiah this side of the Second Coming. The fulfillment of Zechariah 13:8 is a past event. It may have had its fulfillment in the events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Contrary to dispensationalism’s interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus' disciples warned the Jewish nation for nearly forty years about the impending judgment (Matt. 3:7; 21:42–46; 22:1–14; 24:15–22). Those who believed Jesus’ words of warning were delivered “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). Those who continued to reject Jesus as the promised Messiah, even though they had been warned for a generation (Matt. 24:34), “wrath has come upon them to the utmost” (1 Thess. 2:16; cf. 1 Thess. 5:1–11; 2 Pet. 3:10–13).
Before critics of replacement theology throw stones, they need to take a look at their own prophetic system and see its many lapses in theology and logic.
Read Part Two of this article...
2. Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 1989). The address for Bantam Books is 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York.
3. Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, The Legacy of Hatred Continues: A Response to Hal Lindsey’s The Road to Holocaust (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1989).
4. Inserted into the calendar.
5. E. Schuyler English, A Companion to the New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 135.
6. Thomas Ice, “The Israel of God,” The Thomas Ice Collection: www.raptureready.com/featured/TheIsraelOfGod.html#_edn3
7. Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86.
8. John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 107, 113. Emphasis added.
9. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 262.
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
Worthwhile article. Thanks for posting it.
No wonder Reformation theology is associated with the Swiss.
It’s as full of holes as their famous cheese!
Good article (and so true).
BTW, to paraphrase Hanegraaff from his book “Apocalypse Code,” one can only pray and do all that’s permissible to see that this “pseudoeschatology” (i.e. dispensationalism) “will fade into the shadowy recesses of history.”
Intelligent, thought-provoking comments are always welcome.
Hanegraaff took a very Preterist view in his book that I did not find very convincing.
The author would do well to place far more faith in Romans Chapter 11 than his contrived contention.
The author manifests the same lack of faith which resulted in the some branches being broken off from the olive tree.
IMHO, I fear the Lord because I know how many times I might be equally as unfaithful in not realizing how incredibly great the Great Tribulation will be.
Those who believe the Great Tribulation fail to abide in Him through the guidance provided in Romans 11:25.
If the reformed assertion were to be true, then no Gentile believer could come from the Reformation because Romans was written circa 55-58 AD and the the fullness of the time of the Gentiles would have concluded 12 years later, resulting in no valid Church ever being formed beyond that 12 year cycle.
Accordingly, the Reformers devotion to the Great Tribulation having transpired circa 70 AD removes their branch from the olive tree, if true, at least for those Reformers who were originally Gentiles.
God doesn’t refer to it as the Great Tribulation simply because one town was decimated. Many larger tribulations have occurred to believers in Him since then, and it is well understood that there will never be a time on earth so troublesome as the Great Tribulation.
I'm not following your thought process here. Can you make it a bit clearer?
“it is well understood that there will never be a time on earth so troublesome as the Great Tribulation.”
Something to consider:
Exodus 11:6: There will be loud wailing throughout EgyptWORSE THAN THERE HAS EVER BEEN OR EVER WILL BE AGAIN.
Joel 2:2: a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
SUCH AS NEVER WAS OF OLD
NOR EVER WILL BE IN AGES TO COME.
Daniel 9:12: Under the whole heaven NOTHING HAS EVER BEEN DONE LIKE WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO JERUSALEM.
Also, as I think Hanegraaff made a great point, that the Great Flood left only 8 survivors on the whole Earth. It’s hard to believe the future “Great Tribulation” could be worse than that.
That’s what, I believe, is apocalyptic hyperbole that Christ used, using Old Testatment language (language which He often did reference).
“Hanegraaff took a very Preterist view in his book that I did not find very convincing.”
At least you read it. It appears that a lot of people are closed to even considering the differing views of Bible prophecy.
Thanks for the compliment!
I’m glad you enjoyed my post.
Those who believe the Great Tribulation has already occurred, fail to abide in Him through the guidance provided in Romans 11:25.
It still does not make any sense. How does one "fail to abide in Him" merely because one happens to disagree with the futurist/dispensationalist interpretation of events like the "great tribulation"?
If thats not to your liking, you might try something like The Last Days according to Jesus by RC Sproul or Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison.
“you might try something like The Last Days according to Jesus by RC Sproul or Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison.”
I’ve always had immense respect for RC Sproul in general and have read “The Last Days According to Jesus.” The other one I haven’t read yet, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll look for it.
Don’t ask me, ask Him, by faith alone in Him alone, through the guidance provided in Romans 11:25. Let God do all the work in your thinking.
I suspect the builders when speaking to our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, also thought He was speaking in hyperbole when He commented He would raise His temple back up in three days.
I don’t think I want to be around when the time in question rolls around.
What does that have to do with whether I accept your theory on the "great tribulation"?
You originally wrote, "Those who believe the Great Tribulation fail to abide in Him through the guidance provided in Romans 11:25."
It still makes no sense at all. I don't expect God can help sort it out either.
“I suspect the builders when speaking to our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, also thought He was speaking in hyperbole when He commented He would raise His temple back up in three days.”
Not sure I understand your comment here, but, anyway, the Pharisees (wrongly) took Christ’s words literally:
John 2:19-21: Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
Our Lord was speaking very literally. His body was the temple of God the Holy Spirit.
“Our Lord was speaking very literally. His body was the temple of God the Holy Spirit.”
Apparently, there’s a misunderstanding here.
When I said they took him literally, I was referring to the fact that the Pharisees thought Jesus was talking about literally rebuilding the physical temple when He was, obviously, speaking about His body.
Which, BTW, there is no rebuilt temple (or third temple) mentioned in the NT because Christ is the Temple.
It is interesting, and unexplainable, that the NT writers did not mention so central a notion as a rebuilt temple at the end of time in order to justify the futurist understanding of prophecy. After all, Jesus made it quite clear in Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, that the physical temple would be utterly destroyed within a generation of His ascension to the Father. But the apostles never explained that the temple would be rebuilt and the Roman empire revived in order to once again satisfy these prophecies.
Not one mention and so many opportunities, such as the book of Hebrews where the priesthood and sacrifices are discussed extensively. They consistently turn away from the expectation of the old physical nation, and concentrate on the spiritual nation, the Church, the true temple of God. In fact Hebrews explains that the physical was temporary, passing away, and merely served as a pattern of the eternal in heaven (chapter 8).
Curious. You get the impression that the apostles and NT writers had an entirely different view of Gods salvation program that modern day futurists.
I think it is best not to quote or paraphrase from Hannegraaff.
Why? It was a good thought. We should be praying that all forms of spiritual error, including dispensationalism, will pass away, and that truth will triumph.
“We should be praying that all forms of spiritual error, including dispensationalism, will pass away, and that truth will triumph.”
Regardless of your views on Hanegraaff, it was still a good thought. Dispensationalism needs to be eradicated from the Christian Church.
All I know is Hanegraaff’s organization, CRI, is a member of ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) and wouldn’t be a member if he couldn’t meet all ECFA standards. You can go to ecfa.org and look up CRI for yourself.
Allegations, investigations — unless or until someone is actually found guilty, I don’t think it’s good practice to throw another Christian under the bus. It will all shake out and then we’ll see.
But topcat is right. It doesn’t matter who made the statement; the fact is it’s a good one. We should pray for the truth to triumph over error, both for ourselves and throughout the Church.
You guys are always throwing dispensationalists under the bus.
All I know is that I would not trust Hank Hannegraff as far as I could throw him. IMO he is a snake oil salesman. He came to our church as a guest speaker one night and he spent the whole evening trying to sell the congregation his "memory system." He reminded my of the OxyClean guy. I felt like I needed a bath after that presentation.
Challenging their presuppositions and faulty interpretations is not what I would call "throwing dispensationalists under the bus".
Were trying to offer them the truth, and get them to admit their faulty hermeneutical approach has far-reaching effects, and that it is not too late to get on board with a more biblical eschatology.
If you dont care for Hannegraff, thats OK by me. Truth does not rise and fall with any one man. If we judged all dispensationalists by the nut-jobs on TBN, then you would have a point.
Challenging those interpretations and insisting that they "need to be eradicated from the Christian Church" are wholly different things.
Tell me, TC are there any dispensationalists that you would NOT throw under the bus?
I may be offline for a week or so, so take your time before you respond.
Personal experience is, like a picture, worth a thousand words.
As continually repeated, dispensation is a biblical word. And Ephesians 1:10 is the expression of it that gives rise to it being used as an "economy" or style/ordering of an era.
There is everything biblical about that concept IF the Bible does demonstrate that there are unique divisions in history that clearly should be viewed as a whole.
As a way of ordering thought and biblical history, who, for example, would argue that The Garden of Eden was not a unique whole?
At one level it's pointless to argue with those who simply don't see what I see. We must have different eyes. For my part, I cannot deny what my eyes clearly see.
Did you catch the word “dispensationalism” (as opposed to “dispensationalists) that needs to be eradicated from the Church?
Yes, we know. What you have been unable to demonstrate is that the way the Bible uses the word is identical with how dispensationalists use the word.
"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'"
Ridiculous comment and a demonstration that you are uninterested in dealing with the biblical data.
Let me ask a simple question:
Was the Garden of Eden a unique period of time in the bible?
Yes or no will suffice.
ping to #36 & #40
With all due respect, you are avoiding the issue, vis. that dispensationalists use the word "dispensation" in an entirely different manner than does the Bible.
The Bible never refers to Eden as a dispensation of anything. You know that and I know that. Im not going to argue with your non responses to my point.
Most of Hanegraff’s show is him trying to get you to either
a) buy his newest book
b) give CRI money so he can use radio time to get you to buy his newest book.
I take it you haven’t listened to the show, then. You may want to sometime. Even if you don’t like him personally, his show usually has well-known and respected guests (such as Lee Strobel, Joni Earekson-Tada, R.C. Sproul).
You did not answer the question:
Was Eden a separate period or was it not? Yes or no.
And you are using the question to avoid the simple fact that your definition of "dispensation" does not match the Bibles.
Eden was not a "dispensation" according to the way the Bible uses the phrase.
You know what the truth is, and you are afraid to answer the question.
The phenomenon is real.
Was Eden a separate period or was it not?
You can try it but it won't work.
I noticed you are doing a great job of ducking the real issue, that dispensationalism has nothing to do with a biblical notion of "dispensation", with your question.
The smell of fear in the afternoon....ahhhhhhh.
Answer the question which came first. You already have been given the data about Eph 1:10 twice. Once this thread and once on another. That’s why I know the odor that’s in the air.
Is Eden a separate period? Yes or No.
No, because it still exists.